I have been reading a number of book on the historical and cultural context of the 1960s counter-culture in American, and one of the books I have found helpful and relevant to this blog's context is Robert Ellwood's The 60s Spiritual Awakening: American Religion Moving from Modern to Postmodern (Rutgers University Press, 1994). Ellwood includes a number of illustrations in the text that he refers to as "counterpoints." Two of them caught my attention as they relate to popular culture.
The first is titled "Dark Shadows and People in the Shadows." It refers to the television series Dark Shadows that ran on daytime television from 1966-1971 and which involved a fictional family known as the Collinses and which included active involvement with the supernatural. Ellwood writes that this clan was "involved in everything that made up the Sixties spiritual counterculture," including astrology, time-travel, and the appropriation of Gothic horror themes. Ellwood attributes the shows success, in part, to "its enactment of archetypal images," and that the show "reflected a widespread worldview emerging in reaction against the rationalism" of the establishment culture in a shift toward "magical mystery theater." Ellwood places this within a cultural milieu of "postmodern neoromantic subjectivism."
A little later in the book Ellwood includes another "counterpoint," and one titled "New Mythologies, Easy Rides in Space and Time." This piece looks at the religious or spiritual significance of science fiction and fantasy in the late 1960s and quotes Michel Butor to the effect that "science fiction is 'the normal form of mythology of our time.'" Ellwood discusses "the creation of new mythologies from the fabrics of science fiction and fantasy," and he notes the "time of shifting religious imagination" of the Sixties "may yet turn out to be among the most far-reaching developments of the decade."
I find all of this discussion, and its cultural context of the 1960s counter-culture, of great interest as it connects with a previous post of mine on the Sci Fi Boys program where I raised the question as to what cultural and social forces might be at play in the large numbers of young males in the late 1950s through the 1970s who connected deeply with science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Along with Ellwood, I'd suggest that the religious milieu of this location and time period was formative and significant in terms of the significance of these genres as the containers for the creation of new myths and the expressions of archetypal images.